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Grosz Anatomy

October 1, 2014
Grosz Anatomy

In his latest collection of essays, Theater of Cruelty Ian Buruma launches a series of expert investigations into the springs of cruelty and the perils of victomhood.

Coalition of the Chilling

October 1, 2014
Coalition of the Chilling

A British historian’s richly-sourced accounting of Molotov-Ribbentrop offers fresh insights into this Nazi-Soviet pact of “non-aggression.”

Hidden in Plain Sight

October 1, 2014
Hidden in Plain Sight

A new book blames Pakistan for the carnage in Afghanistan. But what does “Pakistan” really mean when its government is so fraught with dissension?

WAKE UUUUP!

October 1, 2014
WAKE UUUUP!

What does the summer of 1989, when Do the Right Thing hit theaters, have to say to the summer of Ferguson, and police militarization, and race relations today?

Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

September 1, 2014
Peer Review: Elena Ferrante’s Hunger, Rebellion, and Rage

The critical consensus around reclusive Italian novelist Elena Ferrante is enough to make you suspect collusion – but to what end? and at what cost? Rohan Maitzen reviews the reviewers.

The Lion’s Den

September 1, 2014
The Lion’s Den

We think of the Middle East as a place of hopeless deadlocks – but once upon a time, an Egyptian president, an Israeli prime minister, and a U.S. president worked for two weeks to hammer out a plan for peace. Lawrence Wright takes readers to Camp David at a turning point in history.

Words Plucked from Our Tongues

September 1, 2014
Words Plucked from Our Tongues

Can Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda heal Canada’s colonial relationship with its First Nations? Why should we expect literature to succeed where our leaders have failed?

The Done Thing

September 1, 2014
The Done Thing

England had been at war with France almost continuously since the Norman Conquest, but in the Hundred Years War, the conflict became especially heightened – and transformative. A new history tells the story as a rattling good yarn.

High and Outside

September 1, 2014
High and Outside

Uncertain Justice, by Lawrence Tribe and Joshua Matz, suggests that personality plays a greater role than ideology in today’s Supreme Court. David Culberg assesses the arguments.

From the Archives: The Battle for Justice in Palestine

September 1, 2014
Layout 1

A controversial author’s latest and most devastating indictment of Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian citizens and neighbors

From the Archives: A False Quarrel

September 1, 2014
Sari Nusseibeh

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems depressingly intractable, an impasse without end. A new book offers a hypothetical solution, but is it foolish idealism, unworkable pragmatism – or a desperately innovative kind of hope?

The Grey Zone

August 1, 2014
The Grey Zone

Gertrude van Tijn helped more than 20,000 Jews escape occupied Holland. What does it mean that, in saving their lives, she had to collaborate with Nazis?

Socrates Offside

August 1, 2014
Socrates Offside

What place do deep questions about the meaning of life have in our technological age? Is philosophy more important than ever?

Troubled Sheep

August 1, 2014
Troubled Sheep

William Deresiewicz has written-up some admonitions for gifted children of privilege: beware of status-mongering, ignorance of other classes, greed. But is his book itself just a wee bit … privileged?

Twenty Feet Tall!

August 1, 2014
Twenty Feet Tall!

The third voume of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland trilogy is sure to fly off the shelves, but those flying copies will be light to the tune of a few needed footnotes, omissions our managing editor finds, to say the least, troubling.

From the Archives: Playing the Shadow Game

August 1, 2014
first_intifada

Since the days of T.E. Lawrence, reporters have been providing the West with carefully-wrought (or overwrought) tales of the Middle East. A new book comments on the excesses–and maybe commits a few too.

It Wasn’t Palimpsestuous

July 1, 2014
It Wasn’t Palimpsestuous

The collectors of rare 78 rpm records are nearly as singular and remarkable as the vinyl they seek out. A new book travels to flea markets and music fairs to discover the secrets of these American obsessives.

Pashtunwali

July 1, 2014
Pashtunwali

Of all the borders in the world, the Durand line is perhaps the most dangerous. A new book seeks to explain the Taliban, who plague the peoples on both sides of it.

The Reign of Saturn

July 1, 2014
The Reign of Saturn

Babe Ruth, Mayor Walker, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Parker – New York City in the Jazz Age was a bristling landscape of giants, most of them from out of town. A vast and enthralling new history tells the stories of the people who made the Big Apple.

2nd Amendment Fundamentalists

July 1, 2014
2nd Amendment Fundamentalists

“You can throw out every damn other thing in the Constitution, as long as you don’t touch my guns,” one Southern U.S. Senator famously bellowed, perfectly typifying a certain psychosis. A new book picks fights on history of American gun law.

Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

June 1, 2014
Peer Review: “We’ve All Been Wrong! Incredible!”

Thomas Piketty’s great mountain of Gallic macro-economics, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, was the hit of the Western world for one heady season. Then the parade moved on, and we were left, dazed and disheveled, wondering if we’ve been fed un truc de ouf. Our Peer Review attempts to sort out the l’affaire Piketty

Hanging On: Modernity and the Crisis of Suicide

June 1, 2014
Hanging On: Modernity and the Crisis of Suicide

With suicides on the rise throughout the Western world, a recent study by Jennifer Hecht attempts to both diagnose the frightening trend and evangelize against it. Ivan Kenneally discusses how effective her arguments are likely to be.

Dervishes and Gypsies

June 1, 2014
Dervishes and Gypsies

Legendary Indian author Saadat Hasan Manto’s choicest short stories – depicting a teeming Bombay that’s both long-vanished and eternal – receive an attractive new paperback edition from Vintage International

Words at the Grave

June 1, 2014
Words at the Grave

On Marx, the latest chip off the block of Alan Ryan’s 2-volume On Politics, focuses on the founder of Marxism – but Ryan’s a man in a hurry, and the devil is in the details.

Circumspice

May 1, 2014
Circumspice

Ronald Reagan single-handedly ended the Cold War at Reykjavik in 1985. And if you believe that, his loyal aid Ken Adelman has a book to sell you.

Skilled in the Ways of the Desert

May 1, 2014
Skilled in the Ways of the Desert

A fascinating new book tells the remarkable stories of five ‘improbable’ women who defied convention to explore the much mythologised landscape of the Middle East.

So Why Write?

May 1, 2014
So Why Write?

As the world’s supply of writers outpaces the world’s demand for their books, the financial returns for writing have fallen to laughable levels. Then why keep doing it? Paul Griffin explores the problem of writing and money.

Ariel: Shelley in Italy

May 1, 2014
Ariel: Shelley in Italy

Like so many before him, the celebrated Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley had a tangled and complicated history with Italy, equal parts inspiration and frustration. Luciano Mangiafico tells the story

Sermons from the Ivory Tower

April 1, 2014
Sermons from the Ivory Tower

A thoughtful exploration of what it means to teach the humanities would be a welcome intervention in the never-ending talk of crisis. Unfortunately, Why Teach? is not that book.

April 2014 Issue

April 1, 2014
April 2014 Issue

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Laylat-al-Qadr

April 1, 2014
Laylat-al-Qadr

A kaleidoscopic new book explores one of history’s sharpest paradoxes: the Age of Liberty was also the Age of Slavery

“There Is No Enjoyment in This Life”

April 1, 2014
“There Is No Enjoyment in This Life”

Iraqi lawyer and former exile Zaid al-Ali writes a bleak, sobering account of the state of his homeland in the post-“Mission Accomplished” era – but is there any reason for hope?

Not Just Cutting Ribbons

April 1, 2014
Not Just Cutting Ribbons

For the past 25 years, the Irish Presidency has been a wonder to behold: a place where passionate eccentrics can embody a complicated country.

Doubleplusungood

April 1, 2014
Doubleplusungood

Putin’s Soviet predecessors were masters of doublespeak. As Ukraine suffers again, it’s clear that their descendents are now in charge.

Policy Papers: Ukraine and the Left

March 8, 2014
Relief_of_the_Light_Brigade

Russia and the West, talking past each other, have blundered into conflict over Ukraine. Some commentators on the American left aren’t behaving much differently.

The Danelaw

March 1, 2014
The Danelaw

In her brilliantly scathing new book, Elaine Scarry charges that US Presidents, in maintaining and augmenting an enormous nuclear arsenal, have broken the social contract and become monarchs in all but name.

Pedestaled in Triumph: Robert Browning in Italy

March 1, 2014
Pedestaled in Triumph: Robert Browning in Italy

The great and problematic poet Robert Browning drew some of his most powerful poetic inspirations from the lore and lure of Italy; Luciano Mangiafico traces the complicated relationship of the man to his “adopted homeland.”

War, in Panorama

February 1, 2014
War, in Panorama

How could they do it, those young men who, with every reason to live, walked deliberately into machine-gun fire? Joe Sacco gives us a panoramic view of the horror, the labor, and the losses of WWI.

A Disproportionate Response

February 1, 2014
Andrew_Sullivan

For years, pioneering blogger Andrew Sullivan was one of the most vocal supporters of the war in Iraq. Time and the war’s wretched progress gradually forced him to change his thinking, however, and a new collection of his writings on the subject charts the disillusioning step-by-step.

February 2014 Issue

February 1, 2014
February 2014 Issue

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No Picnic

January 1, 2014
No Picnic

To literary scholar Laura Frost, the great 20th century modernists created readerly pleasures not through familiar comforts but by transforming difficulty and strangeness into something exciting and new. Daniel Green tests the theory.

Dreaming Different Dreams: The Early Russian Dissenters

January 1, 2014
Dreaming Different Dreams: The Early Russian Dissenters

The Russian dissident writers are largely unknown in the West today, but their work was an inspiration at a time when their compatriots were forbidden to dream different dreams.

Strange Reckoning

January 1, 2014
Strange Reckoning

She was the daughter, the sister, and the wife of kings in one of England’s most turbulent periods, but Alison Weir’s new biography is the first to make us feel we really know Elizabeth of York.

A Palace and a Prison at Each Hand: Lord Byron in Italy (part 1 of 2)

January 1, 2014
A Palace and a Prison at Each Hand: Lord Byron in Italy (part 1 of 2)

Byron was mad, bad, and dangerous to know — and eventually his amorous, adventurous spirit led him to Italy.

Desperately Seeking Solzhenitsyn

December 1, 2013
Desperately Seeking Solzhenitsyn

Every correspondent in Moscow wanted to be the first to find Solzhenitsyn after he won the Nobel Prize in 1970. Michael Johson had that honor – but the great Russian writer wasn’t altogether pleased so see him.

Studio Matto e Disperatissimo: The Life and Writings of Giacomo Leopardi

December 1, 2013
Studio Matto e Disperatissimo: The Life and Writings of Giacomo Leopardi

He was the greatest Italian poet since Dante, but he was tormented by a strict upbringing, ruinous health, and moods of black pessmism. He was Giacomo Leopardi, and this is his story.

Second Glance: Kapuściński’s Africa

December 1, 2013
Second Glance: Kapuściński’s Africa

Ryszard Kapuściński has courted controversy for the poetic licenses in his groundbreaking works of history. But it’s those leaps of imagination and sympathy that make his 2001 book on Africa, The Shadow of the Sun, a lasting work of art.

It Was Fun, the Struggle

December 1, 2013
It Was Fun, the Struggle

The age of Roosevelt and Taft was also the age of Progressive reform – spearheaded by an amazing team of ‘muckraking’ writers the like of which the United States had never seen.

What Does an African Woman Want in America?

November 1, 2013
What Does an African Woman Want in America?

Chimananda Ngozi Adichie’s expansive novel Americanah centers on a Nigerian woman’s immigration to the United States and eventual return to Nigeria. Orem Ochiel explores what her story says about complex, often traumatic experience of being black and African in the West.

Quick, Off the Mark

November 1, 2013
Quick, Off the Mark

Campaign books have short shelf-lives – and they deserve them, since most of them have about as much introspection as yesterday’s racing form. Greg Waldmann reads a recent book on the pivotal 2012 U.S. presidential election.

Feeding the Monster

November 1, 2013
Feeding the Monster

From the agora 2,400 years ago to the present day, the schools of Plato and Aristotle have been locked in combat; a new book sees the struggle in disarmingly simple terms.

JFK in the Senate

October 5, 2013
jfk in the senate

Before he became one of America’s most famous presidents, John Kennedy was a hot-shot senator and a photogenic winner of the Pulitzer Prize. But did the Senate years help to form the Oval Office years?

An Inglorious Life

October 1, 2013
An Inglorious Life

Elizabeth Gilbert’s ambitious new novel imagines the life of a 19th-century woman botanist, as insightful as Darwin but lost to history. It’s an interesting project, and a worthy one, but does the novel live up to its premise?

The Spirit of ’79

October 1, 2013
The Spirit of ’79

Two thousand years ago, a bustling seaside town on the Naples coast was engulfed in a sudden, unthinkable catastrophe: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried Pompeii in hot ash and froze it in death for two millennia. Can any museum exhibit capture the irresistible fascination of such a stark human drama?

From the Archives: In the Pocket of Satan

October 1, 2013
Six Women of Salem

A girl, a widow, a matriarch, a mother, a businesswoman, and a minister’s slave: a new history traces the Salem Witch Trials through the lives of six women who paid dearly for their proximity to one of the most mysterious incidents in American history

Homo Sovieticus

September 1, 2013
Homo Sovieticus

The USSR’s Book of Tasty and Healthy Food created an impression of bounty and gourmet splendor; Anya von Bremzen’s memoir Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking reveals the Soviet kitchen’s homelier truths

The Empire Strikes Back

September 1, 2013
The Empire Strikes Back

King and Woolman’s new book Assassination of the Archduke, boasts new sources, very close to Franz Ferdinand and his wife — too close?

From the Archives: The Bureaucrat Who Would be King

September 1, 2013
From the Archives: The Bureaucrat Who Would be King

President, prime minister, or unnamed Tsar, Vladimir Putin is at once ubiquitous and unknowable; a new book examines the many facets of a new species of autocrat.

Behold the Man

August 1, 2013
Behold the Man

The meek and peaceful Jesus has become the standard Christian image of the Messiah. Religious scholar Reza Aslan’s controversial new book shatters that image and replaces it with something very different: a violent revolutionary who came not to bring peace but a sword.

In Prague on an Errand

August 1, 2013
In Prague on an Errand

In Caleb Crain’s debut novel, a young man puts his ordinary life on hold and goes to post-revolution Prague in search of all the usual things young people go searching for in Prague. But, as reviewer Yulia Greyman observes, “false selves are a part of love.”

Vegetable Wonder

August 1, 2013
Vegetable Wonder

It became entangled with the imperial hopes of a nation and inspired the design of one of the most significant buildings of the 19th century, the Crystal Palace: a new book explores the remarkable story of the Amazonian water lily.

The Heartless World

August 1, 2013
The Heartless World

‘Everyone knows who won the war,’ runs the refrain of Muriel Rukeyser’s Savage Coast; her newly published 1930 novel about the Spanish Civil War shows what it meant to be a witness to it.

From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012 Continues

July 1, 2013
From the Archives: Summer Reading 2012 Continues

Our feature continues, as more Open Letters folk share their annual Summer Reading recommendations!

Mé Féin

June 1, 2013
Mé Féin

Fintan O’Toole is an idealist about Irish republicanism and his books begin a desperately necessary conversation. It’s a bad sign, though, that he can’t quite get past the preliminaries.

Keeping Up With The Tudors: Peace, Plenty, Love, Truth, Terror

June 1, 2013
Keeping Up With The Tudors: Peace, Plenty, Love, Truth, Terror

A debut novel of alternate history spins out one of the most tantalizing hypotheticals of the past: what if Anne Boleyn had managed to give King Henry VIII a healthy male heir? Some of the answers – and some of the resulting mysteries – may surprise you.

American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Magic II.

June 1, 2013
American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Magic II.

Bohemian Back Bay was as key to Copley Square as aristocratic Back Bay and black artist models figured not only in Sargent’s work, but in Fred Holland Day’s too.

Failing Gracelessly

May 1, 2013
Failing Gracelessly

The authors have invaluable sources in America’s ‘deep state’ of surveillance and counter-terrorism, but how much secrecy does security justify? And what happened to moral accountability?

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Magic 1

May 1, 2013
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Magic 1

A startling triptych illuminates the crossroads of social, racial, and sexual identity in the Copley Square of a century ago, as “The Gods of Copley Square” continues

Approaching Auschwitz

April 1, 2013
A MAN LOOKS AT PHOTOGRAPHS OF HUNGARIAN JEWS HELD AT THE AUSCHWITZ CONCENTRATION CAMP AT THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM IN LONDON

An incurious and indifferent Jew journeys to Auschwitz to confront the kitsch and the manicured ruins, looking for a sense of connection – and finding it in the most unlikely places

American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Centerpiece 7

April 1, 2013
American Aristocracy  |  GODS OF COPLEY SQUARE  |  Centerpiece 7

“The Gods of Copley Square”s spirited multi-part examination of Boston’s Trinity Church (and its indomitable bishop-saint) comes to its conclusion right where it should: at the heart of worship

The Earl of Gallipoli

April 1, 2013
The Earl of Gallipoli

The typical image of Winston Churchill comes from the dark days of World War II: a fat, old, bald Prime Minister eloquently defying Hitler’s Germany. But before there was a monument there was a man, as an engaging new biography brings to light.

From the Archives: Embossed Coins

April 1, 2013
From the Archives: Embossed Coins

Elie Wiesel once claimed “a novel about Treblinka is either not a novel or not about Treblinka.” How does Steve Sem-Sandberg grapple with representing the unrepresentable in his sweeping chronicle of the Łódź ghetto, The Emperor of Lies? A review from our archives.

Second Glance: A Virgil or Two

March 1, 2013
Second Glance: A Virgil or Two

He may not have anything new to tell us today, but as Spencer Lenfield demonstrates, Gilbert Highet’s friendly, engaging pedagogy is still rare enough to keep him relevant.

The Geeks Shall Inherit

March 1, 2013
The Geeks Shall Inherit

We’ve long endowed campaign consultants with shamanistic powers, but now a new truth is beginning to emerge–the people behind the scenes who can do most to win elections are the data analysts and stat nerds.

“He Might As Well Have Called Me Nancy!” Mark Twain in Italy

March 1, 2013
“He Might As Well Have Called Me Nancy!” Mark Twain in Italy

After his first visit to Italy, Mark Twain pronounced her “one vast museum of magnificence and misery,” and yet he returned again and again. Luciano Magniafaco chronicles his journeys.

Judaize This

February 1, 2013
Judaize This

The belief that Jews are the enemy of civilization is one of the West’s most tenacious and systemic ideas. Professor David Nirenberg’s new history offers a vast, seemingly inexhaustible record of a very old, very useful hatred.

Puce Needle Diggings

February 1, 2013
Puce Needle Diggings

When the Paris Review, long regarded as a literary standard-bearer, publishes a volume on the art of the short story, it flushes a flurry of conversations into the open: what is a short story? What constitutes an anthology-worthy example? What’s the audience for this kind of thing? And: can these stories answer such questions?

Epstein’s Kaleidoscope

February 1, 2013
Epstein’s Kaleidoscope

Joseph Epstein has a cult following as a sharp-tongued critic and essayist. His latest collection showcases his love of words and ideas as well as his caustic wit.

Back, Back, Down the Old Ways of Time: D. H. Lawrence in Italy

February 1, 2013
Back, Back, Down the Old Ways of Time: D. H. Lawrence in Italy

Year after year, D. H.Lawrence found love, lust, and gainful employment in Italy – and through the strange alchemy of the place, he also found the inspirations for some of his most enduring works of art.

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 6

February 1, 2013
TrinityHarvardLibrary

Lost to history, here re-discovered, Trinity Chancel –“a daring enterprise in its day, as original an expression and as unique as was the genius of the American people.”

Entred in a Spacious Court

January 1, 2013
Entred in a Spacious Court

Ben Jonson said that the once wealthy and acclaimed Edmund Spenser died “for want of bread”; a new biography tries to disentangle myth from fact, and to make the case for the great poet’s relevance today

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 5

January 1, 2013
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 5

A rumor of Narnia at Trinity Church prompts two questions. Can a building have a spiritual life? Can a work of art not? Phillips Brooks and the idea of ecstasy

Sharing A Cab

December 1, 2012
Sharing A Cab

Give Anthony Burgess a check and he’d write anything, even a Time-Life picture book. Which doesn’t mean that his 1976 guide to New York is anything less than fascinating.

Too Much Signal

December 1, 2012
Too Much Signal

Nate Silver is currently enjoying his status as that unlikeliest of people, the celebrity statistician. Does his bestseller The Signal and the Noise live up to its carefully calculated expectations?

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 4

December 1, 2012
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square –  Centerpiece 4

“Truth is Catholic, but the search for it is Protestant,” quoth W.H. Auden, and this month Phillips Brooks is at Lourdes, of all places, his liking for which can only be explained by his experiences at Benares.

The Evolutionary: Barack Obama’s First Term in the White House

November 1, 2012
The Evolutionary: Barack Obama’s First Term in the White House

Four years ago, Barack Obama won the U.S. presidency on a platform of hope and change. This month, as he fights for re-election, Greg Waldmann takes a detailed look at the incumbent’s first term.

The Power Season

November 1, 2012
The Power Season

As Americans go to the polls this month to elect a president, some recent biographies examine the lives of five very different men who once held the office.

American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square – Centerpiece 3

November 1, 2012
American Aristocracy: Gods of Copley Square –  Centerpiece 3

“Perhaps a little drunk might answer” was Phillips Brooks’s idea of how to view Pre-Raphaelite art, several masterpieces of which he commissioned for Trinity Church. “Centerpiece” continues.

From The Archives: Raging Bull

November 1, 2012
From The Archives: Raging Bull

In this tensely-charged election year, all eyes fix on the blogosphere – of 1787. Jeffrey Eaton signs us in to Library of America’s 2-volume Debate on the Constitution and fills the comments field.

A Man Apart

October 1, 2012
A Man Apart

Mitt Romney’s diatribe at a Boca Raton fundraiser may have torpedoed his candidacy. Was he just pandering, or did he actually mean all of those things he said?

Nine Ways of Looking at D’Annunzio

October 1, 2012
Nine Ways of Looking at D’Annunzio

Madman, lothario, despot, drug fiend, friend and enemy of Mussolini – and immortal poet. Gabriele D’Annunzio was all of these things and many more in his whirlwind of a life.

American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 2

October 1, 2012
American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 2

Henry Adams on the road to Chartres, Phillips Brooks on the Madonna of the prairie, and John La Farge on why he worried Trinity Church had “no heart” — The Gods of Copley Square continues

Change-gamer

October 1, 2012
TPM2012

Election-weary Americans might wonder why anybody in their right minds would elect to play a video-game presidential contest – but the process can be oddly enlightening.

Books Before and After

September 1, 2012
6

It’s a bridge, a barrier, and a burden; it’s used in the bedroom, the kitchen, and the outhouse. Leah Price helps us think again about what we can, should, or want to do with that most fetishized of objects: the book.

‘Stop, traveler, and piss!’

September 1, 2012
Castlereagh_death-1

Lord Castlereagh lives in infamy as the target of the Romantic Poets’ most vicious insults, but a new biography tries to salvage his reputation. Was the statesman a scourge of liberalism or pragmatist of Enlightenment ideals?

Attainted: The Life and Afterlife of Ezra Pound in Italy

September 1, 2012
ep

Pound wrote The Pisan Cantos on toilet paper while prisoner in an open-air metal cage during WWII, and he spent many of the following years in mental hospitals. “I can get along with crazy people,” he quipped. “It’s only the fools I can’t stand.”

In Praise of the Practitioner

September 1, 2012
GZhukov

Was General Zhukov the greatest general to order mass executions of his own soldiers? Was he the single most decisive factor in beating Hitler? A new biography opens more questions than it answers.

American Aristocracy: Gods Of Copley Square – Centerpiece 1 

September 1, 2012
shades of moscow

Byzantium rediscovered. An American in Venice and a forgotten Madonna (which breaks the rules) in Copley Square. Behold an American Hagia Sophia

A Hostage Worth Ransoming

September 1, 2012
A Hostage Worth Ransoming

Who’s at fault for our disastrous politics — both parties? Not a chance, say Washington insiders Ornstein and Mann. Our resident politico fisks their analysis.

Those Feet

August 1, 2012
CoF

This summer’s London Olympics take us back to 1981’s Chariots of Fire, the 1924 Olympics, and the poetry of William Blake. The connection? All remind us of the fragility of glory and our endless wish to make the past present.

We Could Have Beaten Kennedy…

August 1, 2012
LBJ-RFK-JFK

Lyndon Johnson rained destruction on Vietnam and championed civil rights, amassed a secret fortune and fought for the needy. His paradoxical life continues in the fourth volume of Robert Caro’s epic biography.

A Writ of Certiorari

August 1, 2012
37

A contentious Supreme Court in the headlines is hardly a new thing – nor is the Court being used for partisan politics and the brinksmanship of history, as Noah Feldman’s Scorpions makes clear

A Man Without Divisions

August 1, 2012
Prejudices

“He calls you a swine,” Walter Lippmann once wrote of H.L. Mencken, “and he increases your will to live.” A reissue of Mencken’s 1926 rabble-rouser Notes on Democracy shows the journalist at his insulting, rejuvenating best.

Century 16, Aurora

July 20, 2012
pic 2

In the wake of today’s news from Connecticut, we are reposting a note written by our Executive Editor following the shootings in Aurora earlier this year.

Roberts Saves POTUS and SCOTUS

July 1, 2012
Roberts Saves POTUS and SCOTUS

We may never know with certainty what brought Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to cast the deciding vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act and salvage the chief accomplishment of Barack Obama’s presidency. But …

American Aristocracy: The Gods of Copley Square – Cornerstone

July 1, 2012
bell cellar

Boston’s iconic Copley Square – with its Trinity Church and its Public Library – is a present-day tourist hotspot, but those visitors hardly suspect the deep and rich history of the area. American Aristocracy continues.

What the Duchess of Argyll’s Maid told Dicky Pigg-Wilcott’s Valet at Ascot in ’08!

July 1, 2012
LadyColinCampbell

Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was a cherished and beloved fixture of the British royal family for almost a century (and would certainly have stolen the show at her daughter’s Diamond Jubilee, had she lived to see it) – but a new book claims the Queen Mum was just an ordinary human being – and not always a very nice one

We Are Oil

June 1, 2012
We Are Oil

Just how powerful is Exxon Mobil? Who can they pay off and which governments are they propping up? Steve Coll’s new book explores the dark side of power and light.

Keeping Up With the Windsors – The Invisible Woman

June 1, 2012
HMQEIIHC

She’s occupied the throne of Great Britain and the Commonwealth for 60 years, and in June Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee. Three new biographies try to understand the woman wearing the crown.

Second Glance: Halberstam’s Vietnam and The Anxiety of Power

June 1, 2012
vietn

McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara, RFK, JFK, LBJ–these were the best and the brightest of David Halberstam’s landmark study of American politics during the Vietnam War. The book is now 40 years old and its lessons are as vital as ever.

American Aristocracy – Beethoven In Granite: The Boston Brahmin Aesthetic

June 1, 2012
dst – 2

Intertwining through Boston history: the rich, implacable music of Beethoven and the flinty austerity of the Boston Granite style of architecture – trace the connections, as American Aristocracy continues.

From the Archives: Supping with Glaucus: A Tour of Roman Historical Fiction

June 1, 2012
barba_the_slaver

Steve Donoghue takes the emperor’s box to thumbs-up or thumbs-down an array of Roman historical novels, as “A Year with the Romans” continues.

From the Archives: Crowned and Anointed

June 1, 2012
bodice

Ian Manfred St. Cyr settles in with Maureen Waller’s Sovereign Ladies, a biography of “the six reigning queens of England” and suggests that the author’s headcount may be a little low.

All the World to Nothing

May 1, 2012
9

The real mystery of Richard III is not the fate of his nephews, the Princes in the Tower, but why we never tire of telling and re-telling his story. What do we really see when we stare at his enigmatic portrait?

Keeping Up With the Tudors: Lizard on a Rock

May 1, 2012
Henry-VII

He survived years of dangerous exile, won his crown on the battlefield, and founded one of the most famous dynasties in human history – and yet we still haven’t embraced Henry VII. A spirited new biography seeks to change that.

Monumental and Fragile

May 1, 2012
sikuquanshu

No form of literature seems as thoroughly doomed in the 21st century as the printed encyclopedia, but even dinosaurs can have rich and rewarding life-stories. Where did we go, before we all went to the Internet?

Ghost Town Apostle

May 1, 2012
abandoned-house

Ken Layne’s political writing is sharp and raucus, and a novel about a financially devastated near-future United States would seem like a perfect vehicle for more anger. But though that fire is still there, a gentle-but-compelling spiritualist tone has risen to to the fore.

LOL, SRSLY?

May 1, 2012
LOL, SRSLY?

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has made a career of joking about easy political targets – so what happens when she tries to deliver a factual inquiry of a serious subject? Nothing funny, as Greg Waldmann discovers.

No Strange Quirk of Fate

May 1, 2012
Avengers

This month sees the arrival of the long-awaited $250 million dollar Hollywood movie adaptation of Marvel Comics’ Avengers. Lost in all the hype is the rich history of the comic itself; Justin Hickey explores the convergence of pulp and pixels.

American Aristocracy – Civil War: Pride and Shame on the Via Sacra

May 1, 2012
WilliamJames

The clash between Brahmin liberalism and the legacy of slave-trading focuses on a monument to the men who redeemed a city and ransomed a nation. “American Aristocracy” continues.

Good Enough

April 1, 2012
Good Enough

A new book takes readers back to a time when, according to historian Ira Shapiro, politics could sometimes be noble and senators could sometimes be giants.

Odi et Amo

April 1, 2012
Catullus

The work of the Roman poet Catullus has always challenged the received idioms of poetry and society, and a daring new translation both underscores and undermines that iconoclastic Catullan stance.

The People’s Prisoner

April 1, 2012
TiananmenSquareJune289

When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in 2010, it was given to an empty chair. Its recipient, Liu Xiaobo, was in prison for advocating human rights in China. Though he is still incarcerated, a collection of essays sheds light on his thought and struggle.

American Aristocracy – Harvard Pulpit: Boston Brahmin Liberalism

April 1, 2012
MIT postcard

To the quintessential virtues the Puritans lent to a fledgling republic – globality, philantropy, and autonomy – the ‘speaking aristocracy’ of the Boston Brahmins added one more: the love of learning

Designing Desire

April 1, 2012
Steve_Jobs_and_Bill_Gates

Steve Jobs, the visionary predator who founded Apple and forged a new way of thinking about technology, wasn’t a particularly nice man (as even his dutiful biographer must occasionally concede) – but was he a genius?

A Man Could Stand Up: On Downton Abbey’s Second Season

April 1, 2012
ethel-and-the-major

Unlike the soap operas with which it is often dismissively aligned, Downton Abbey is defined by change rather than stasis – by its beautifully produced attention to social evolution.

When She Was Lost

April 1, 2012
bainbridge

One hundred years ago this month, the luxury liner Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, with the loss of over 1500 lives. The centenary has released a flood of books, including some gems not to be missed.

Breitbart at Rest

March 3, 2012
andrew-breitbart

Andrew Breitbart, the brash, conservative media warrior, died a few days ago. He was by all accounts a wonderful husband, father, and friend – but should that matter?

Cato of the Antipodes

March 1, 2012
1321632

Of his 60+ books, one in particular, The United States, is best representative of his work as a whole and, by readers, best loved. On the Collected Essays of Gore Vidal.

Romney After Florida

February 1, 2012
Romney_2011_Paradise_Valley,_AZ

After a brutal six months, Mitt Romney has won Florida and almost certainly the GOP nomination. Democrats and Republicans are rightly focused on his record, but they’re each doing it for the wrong reasons.

The Apparatchik

February 1, 2012
condoleezza-rice

For two terms, first as National Security Advisor and then as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was the most – often the only – likeable face of the George W. Bush administration. But does this quintessential team player break ranks in her new memoir?

‘I am Thy Man’

February 1, 2012
HundredYearsWar

He fought a world war with France, survived the Black Death, and gave England a real Parliament. Froissart and Chaucer loved him, Shakespeare (almost) wrote about him, and the Victorians disparaged him. He was Edward III, and he has a king-sized new biography from Yale University Press.

On Reading a Five-Volume Biography of Prince Albert

January 1, 2012
princealbertqueenvictoriawedding

Maligned as nothing but handsome breeding stock, this German import did more to redefine the role of the monarchy than any subsequent royal, consort or king.

American Aristocracy – Brahmin Dreams: In Search of the Capital of The World

January 1, 2012
fatkd

Boston without Brahmins, like Vienna without Jews, frames shifting capitoline visions, visions much more in the spirit than most realize of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., who actually wrote: ‘It dwarfs the mind to feed it on any localism.’

Generalissimo

January 1, 2012
madison

James Madison was more cautious and purposeful than the temperamental Hamilton or the effusive Jefferson. Indeed, to paraphrase Brookhiser, Hamilton was a rocket, Jefferson was a kite, Madison was a ballast.

Over Grinton Bridge: Riding into the Heart of Reformation

December 1, 2011
2

A rich, beautiful, but sadly neglected historical masterpiece: Hilda Prescott’s The Man on a Donkey is the War and Peace of the English Reformation

The Prince of Now and Then

December 1, 2011
william

He lost his famous mother when he was a boy, became a teen idol, had a storybook wedding, and he’s second in line to be King of England. The monarchy Prince William inherits will be like nothing his predecessors have experienced – if it exists at all. “A Year with the Windsors” concludes.

An American in China

November 1, 2011
wartrashhajin

A meticulously-researched rendition of the horrifying massacres that comprised the “Rape of Nanjing” is the backdrop for Ha Jin’s latest telegraphic and affecting novel.

A Heartbeat Away

November 1, 2011
Dick Cheney

John Nance Garner famously referred to the vice presidency as being not worth a bucket of warm, er, spit – and yet, during the two terms of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney used that office to wield unprecedented power. The former vice president writes an unapologetic memoir.

In Lieu of a Drink

November 1, 2011
hitchenshat

Provocative public intellectual/muckraker Christopher Hitchens offers an enormous volume of collected essays and articles, probably his last.

The Steward

November 1, 2011
harrycharles

He’s been waiting for the throne longer than any Prince of Wales before him, and he’s changed the nature of the monarchy while he’s been waiting. But will we ever see King Charles III? ‘A Year with the Windsors’ takes a look at the heir.

American Aristocracy – Letter from Boston: Toward a New History

October 1, 2011
prendergast-west-church

Boston, so often reproved for living in its memories, may well be poised to lead the future, not in spite of its history but because of it.

Chairman of the Board

October 1, 2011
bpimlottthequeen

Lodestar or mirror? Passé or ne plus ultra? Elizabeth II has presided with consistency over an inconsistent age. And what have we learned of her?

Pseudo-Binaristic Wiki-Okatu

October 1, 2011
interrnets

The key to storytelling is world-building, and a new book wonders if our new and all-encompassing Digital Era has given mankind world-building tools like it’s never had before. Is it the death of the imagination – or Story 2.0?

Splendide Mendax

September 1, 2011
Splendide Mendax

The ethics of Wikileaks (and the antics of its mastermind, Julian Assange) continue to be the focus of controversy – and new books. Greg Waldmann takes a comprehensive look at the entire phenomenon.

Work in Progress

September 1, 2011
triumphofthecity

Could you actually be hurting the environment by going green and moving to the suburbs? A new book champions that oft-maligned human invention: the big city.

Changeable Camelion

September 1, 2011
Painting Poet John Donne

Courtier and cleric, adventurer and ascetic, man of faith and man of the world — John Donne was many things in his life, and a sprawling new Companion does its best to assess them all.

Oblivion

September 1, 2011
chinaberrytree

One of the most significant voices of the Harlem Renaissance was Jessie Redmon Fauset — novelist, essayist, translator, and editor. She’s become obscured behind many of the male writers she published, but Joanna Scutts returns her poignant work to the main stage

A Very Ordinary Person

August 1, 2011
george vi at sandringham, 1949

When his brother the king abdicated, shy Prince Bertie suddenly became king – and he was just settling in when the World War II threw his kingdom into chaos. ‘A Year with the Windsors’ continues.

‘Some fights are bigger than others’

August 1, 2011
LousiaThomas

Brothers take opposing sides in World War One, in a gripping biography that reveals the history and politics of America’s role in the conflict.

The Golden Touch

August 1, 2011
bankofnorthamericacurrency

A new biography explores the life of the erratic and headstrong ‘forgotten’ Founding Father who bankrolled a revolution and guided a new republic.

The New Old Atheism

July 1, 2011
9781616143831

Religion is one of those subjects that are too important to be polite about. But can we at least agree to disagree respectfully about the meaning of life?

Folk and Fields Suffice

July 1, 2011
9780713990645

When the tottering Roman Empire abandoned its far-flung outpost of Britain, the natives were forced to fend for themselves. The results were one part “Lord of the Flies” and one part “Camelot.”

A Prison Spotlight

July 1, 2011
9780806533049

Former political radical Susan Rosenberg received the longest sentence ever given for the charge of possessing explosives. Her new memoir revisits her prison experience.

A Very Narrow Area

July 1, 2011
9780465013975

A pivotal part of the Second World War was fought not on land or sea but under the waves – and a new history attributes heroism to both sides.

A Brief for the Defense

June 1, 2011
A Brief for the Defense

If you’re hoping for a heartfelt mea culpa from an architect of two disastrous wars, this isn’t it. Donald Rumsfeld’s memoir is shallow at best, cynically self-serving at worst.

Bohemia Rundown

May 1, 2011
tc

Semiotext(e) is famous for theory and provocation. So what happens when its co-founder takes on the art world in the latest installment of their manifesto series? To begin with, she doesn’t write a manifesto…

A Novelist in Tahrir Square

April 1, 2011
SiestaFrederickLewis

It’s fitting that Ahdaf Soueif is narrating this exciting new chapter in Egypt’s history: for decades she has offered her readers richer, more complicated stories of the Middle East than the commonplace ones of submission and extremism.

Last Days of the Rough Rider

April 1, 2011
RooseveltOnSafari

Theodore Roosevelt left office younger than any American president before him, and renowned biographer Edmund Morris concludes his TR trilogy with a look at the Colonel’s post-power days.

Prince Eddy and the Blackguards

April 1, 2011
prince eddy and princess may

When the heir presumptive, Prince Eddy, died suddenly, the nation and empire was convulsed with mourning – and a century of speculation began! Had the lost prince been a simpleton, a saint, a catamite – even Jack the Ripper?

The Neocon Mask Removed

April 1, 2011
IrvingKristol

The ideology Irving Kristol helped found is inexorably tied to Bush administration, but a posthumous collection of essays reveals different and bracingly diverse origins

Forever Nell

April 1, 2011
‘the duke of monmouth and my lady castlemaine’ by ernest shepard 1

She was an orange-seller, an actress, a whore, and the most popular of Charles II’s many mistresses: Nell Gwynn stars in two new novels.

Out of Sorts

March 1, 2011
metalmoveabletype

Books have been with us for thousands of years, and books about books for very nearly that long. The world of books teems with themes, and in the latest massive Oxford Companion, that world receives a bestiary with hopes of being definitive.

A Light on the Ground

March 1, 2011
aerialflyby

The myth of idyllic rural America dies hard, but the scourges of modern society have long since struck the heartland, including the scourge of drug addiction and drug trafficking. A recent book explores the darkness at the edge of town.

Squid Pro Quo

February 1, 2011
Goldmansachsexecutivestestifysenate

Matt Taibbi is the foremost political-writing muckraker of his generation, matching an acerbic wit with a pressure-cooked prose style. But is there substance behind the bluster?

History Without the Moon

February 1, 2011
DiamonJubilee

Her reign was epic in length and social impact, but it very nearly didn’t happen at all. She ruled through two generations of her people, and she left the British monarchy very different from how she found it. She is Queen Victoria, and our Year with the Windsors starts as it must: with her.

There Can Only Be One

February 1, 2011
SixNationsveteransWar1812

The United States’ first Civil War, Alan Taylor claims, was fought in 1812. Ivan Lett assesses the revisionist argument.

Oh, Henry

February 1, 2011
patrick henry

Patrick Henry uttered one of the most famous lines in American history, and a new biography attempts to claim him for a particular radical strain of popularism in contemporary politics. Give me liberty or give me… historical distortion?

Duel

January 1, 2011
Duel

Nixon’s crimes are known to us all. A new book reveals that his biggest tormentor in the media committed a few of them himself.

Literature is Dead, Long Live Literature

January 1, 2011
dictionaryofreceivedieas

Is the death of literature finally dead? If not, it’s been dealt a healthy blow by Gregory Jusdanis’ Fiction Agonistes, even it art does have to “justify itself in a way not necessary before.”

The Beginning of the End, the Battle at the End, and the End

January 1, 2011
9780312628192

In 1941 Hitler had everything: all of Europe had fallen to his stormtroopers, and he could dispose of lone, defiant England at his leisure. Then he made a Napoleonic gamble: he invaded his one-time ally, Russia. Three new books deal with the Napoleonic results of that gamble.

The Prodigal Brothers

December 1, 2010
gustavmahler

Ever since Cain and Abel, literature has reserved a prominent place for sterling heroes — and the flawed, grasping, and entirely more interesting brothers who live in their shadow.

Simple Man

December 1, 2010
Simple Man

No American president in a generation has so polarized the country as George W. Bush, and his new book will almost certainly polarize its readers. Is it defiant agitprop or heartfelt memoir?

W.

December 1, 2010
george-washington_4964

For two centuries, he’s been the founding myth of his nation: first in war, first in peace, Washington the paragon. Ron Chernow’s new biography does nothing to tarnish that image — but should it?

Misfiring the Canon

December 1, 2010
charleshill

Of the charismatic Yale lecturer one adoring student wrote, “Charles Hill is God,” and in his new book, Hill moves in mysterious ways. He claims that statecraft and the Western canon are inextricably linked — but there are doubters in the temple.

A Day Such as This

November 1, 2010
Battle-of-the-somme-2

The Battle of the Somme has become a watch-word for useless slaughter over worthless ground, but a new book contends that the Somme was actually a victory for the good guys–a ghastly, horrifying victory, but a victory just the same.

The Purposes of Creation

November 1, 2010
0118_cloned_embryo

As reproductive technology has become more advanced, the value of those engineered lives has become more complicated. Two recent novels provide a striking perspective on this growing conflict.

The Lion Saves His Pride

November 1, 2010
The Lion Saves His Pride

Winston Churchill has become such an icon of wartime tenacity that many people tend to forget he had a postwar political career. Barbara Leaming’s 2010 biography examines the last act of a famous man’s career.

…then we are “jingoes”

November 1, 2010
…then we are “jingoes”

A new book argues that Theodore Roosevelt and William Randolph Hearst stampeded the United States into the Spanish-American War to feed imperial ambition and sell some newspapers. Are the roots of modern America rotten?

Keeping Up with the Romans: The Phenomenon of Her

November 1, 2010
Alma-TademaAandCleopatra

She’s one of the most famous names in history, and the only figure in antiquity to rival Julius Caesar’s renown–but what do we really know about Cleopatra? Stacy Schiff’s new biography takes us behind the legend.

“Perception at the Pitch of Passion”

November 1, 2010
baldwin

A catch-all collection of James Baldwin’s essays, letters, and speeches reveals a social commenter whose observations retain their relevance and universality to this day

The 2010 Bestseller Feature

October 1, 2010
obamadiaries

It’s that time of year again, when our writers gird themselves and review all ten books on The New York Times bestseller list. This time around the quarry is bestselling Nonfiction.

Second Glance: The Daringly Sensible Marjorie Hillis

October 1, 2010
Live alone cover

In books such as “Live Alone and Like It” Marjorie Hillis preached independence and practical style to “live-aloner” working women of the 1930s and beyond

The Curious Disposition

October 1, 2010
The-Merchant-of-Venice-thumb-560xauto-26123

Some of the greatest works of English literature grapple with the dark, knotted roots of anti-Semitism, and the audience is always complicit. A new book studies the tangle of art and atrocity in writers Chaucer to Marlowe to Shakespeare

No Heaven for Suckers

October 1, 2010
machiavelli

He has become synonymous with amoral, cold-hearted political machination, but there was more to Machiavelli than that. A new biography attempts to look at the whole man.

The Mutilated World

October 1, 2010
baghdad-un-cp-1164024

The attacks of 9/11 evoked reactions from writers around the world, and journalist Scott Malcolmson finds fault with a great many of them – but does he do any better a job himself?

In Possession of the Place

October 1, 2010
sissinghurst

Adam Nicolson chronicles his work bringing Sissinghurst castle and its grounds up to date–the delusions of a “hippie-squire” or the worthy restoration of a storied estate?

Keeping Up with the Romans: The Senator Investigates

October 1, 2010
pompeii01

He toadied to a succession of emperors and trembled at the mere thought of being mugged — on the surface, it looks odd to cast Pliny the Younger as a detective. A new mystery novel takes that chance.

The Western Star

September 1, 2010
compromise1850

More than any other figure in American history (including his hated rival Andrew Jackson), Henry Clay towered over the political landscape in the decades before the Civil War; two new books look at his legacy.

Beyond the Pillars of Hercules

September 1, 2010
800px-Feuerbach_symposium

In addition to their gods and goddesses, the ancient Greeks worshiped youth and athletic prowess, and their foremost bard was Pindar.

Fetch My Embroidery!

September 1, 2010
Hepburn-TheLionInWinter-YouTubeImage

Was Eleanor of Aquitaine a power in medieval politics or a glittering figurehead? This wife of two kings and mother of four stars in a new novel by Alison Weir – but will the real Eleanor please stand up?

Uneasy Witness

August 1, 2010
Cows – Slaughter House

Vegetarians choose to be vegetarians and meat-eaters choose to be “normal.” Melanie Joy cuts into the language we use to describe our food and the mindset behind it.

Sounds Simple, Nearly Impossible

August 1, 2010
antietam2

The documentary Restrepo, set in the deepest and most violent American outpost in Afganastan, ushers us “through a door most Americans don’t know about and don’t want to know about”

The Thin, Clear, Happy Call

August 1, 2010
edwardiansense

The sunlit aesthetics of the Edwardian era have been given a new look in this essay collection, and the consensus leans decidedly toward the darker meanings belying those lovely surfaces

An Anvil Unto Sorrow

August 1, 2010
Edward-and-Gaveston

What we know about Edward II came from the brilliant mind of Christopher Marlowe. A new biography seeks to separate the real man from the dramatist’s fertile imagination.

City of Sorrow

August 1, 2010
Ciudad.Juarez

In 2009, Ciudad Juarez reported 2,700 homicides. As Charles Bowden’s new book Murder City shows, the bloody drug-war just south of the border shows no signs of abating

Midlife Magic

August 1, 2010
emmanuel_carrere

Emmanuel Carrere’s memoir is an uneasy blend of sexual fantasy and archival records, of a future with a beautiful young woman and a past haunted by a possible Nazi collaborator

The Ass Made Proud

August 1, 2010
TalentedMrRipleyF

As Mark Twain pointed out a century ago, there’s no evidence the man from Stratford ever read a book, much less owned one, and so the number of books alleging and ‘proving’ evidence of his grand fraud grows and grows …

In Defense of the Memory Theater

July 1, 2010
bookshelves–crespi

Our bookshelves are a hedge against our failing memories, and as such, an extension of our minds. Nathan Schneider explores if and how this sacred role will be preserved in the age of digitization.

How, Not If

July 1, 2010
How, Not If

The so-called Tea Party would like to dump President Obama in Boston Harbor – but even ordinary politicians often misunderstand him. The reasons are simpler than you think.

A Certain Perturbation

July 1, 2010
robinsonyale

In Absence of Mind, Marilynne Robinson explores both the dynamics of faith and the complacency of recent anti-faith screeds. But is her own book something of a fall from grace?

Keeping Up With The Tudors: Bernard’s Theorem

July 1, 2010
jane-seymour

At her trial, Anne Boleyn was accused of adultery, witchcraft, and incest – charges long mocked by historians. But a new book asks: is it possible Anne was actually guilty?

American Golgotha

July 1, 2010
bostonmassacre

When colonial tensions were at a boiling point, the British garrisoned troops on Boston Common and put the city under military occupation – until a certain Massacre, that is.

Revolution in a Half Shell

July 1, 2010
turtlebig

During the American Revolution, colonists ran blockades, fought sea-battles and … sent in an attack-submarine? No, it’s not time travel – it’s the amazing story of the Turtle.

The Summer’s Rage of Fire

June 1, 2010
marne,1914

World War I is known for its inching attrition, but both sides tried their hand at massive, all-or-nothing ‘pushes’ – including two of the worst, the Marne and the Somme.

“For a Long Time I Hated God…”

June 1, 2010
junger

Famed reporter Sebastian Junger spent months embedded with frontline troops in Afghanistan’s most forbidding region and tells the stories of the men who fight there.

Write, Repeat Redux

June 1, 2010
h f a

In his new memoir, Christopher Hitchens regales his readers with one good story after another. But as John Rodwan shows, we’ve heard most of them before – lots of times.

General Winter Had Help

June 1, 2010
tsaralexander

We often let Napoleon’s failure to conquer Russia obscure the fact that Napoleon was then conquered by Russia. A new book restores the balance of power.

I Talk & Laugh & Listen

June 1, 2010
King_George_VI_and_Queen_Elizabeth

A minor daughter of Scottish nobility was raised to the royalty of England at the turn of the 20th century and lived until she was 102. Her official biography chronicles an age.

Raggedy-Ass Marines

June 1, 2010
uss-hornet-01

The Pacific Theater WWII battle against Japan – it will forever be ‘the other war’ – here takes center stage as the boredom and carnage are seen by five individual soldiers.

Foxhole Allies

June 1, 2010
emma goldman

The Anarchist movement in America was the first to embrace some form of gay rights, but it was more a marriage of convenience than love at first sight.

Smiling, and Back to Work

May 1, 2010
joseph_schumpeter

In 2007-2008, the world’s financial markets experienced ample “creative destruction.” Now in paperback is this rich (no pun intended) life of the man who coined the term.

The Nautilus

May 1, 2010
south side of st marks from the loggia of the ducal palace, john ruskin, 1850

When John Ruskin, the foremost architectural critic of the Victorian era, discovered Venice, he fell in love. An elaborate new work paints the picture in great detail.

Ragged Ishmael

May 1, 2010
growingupunderground

“Mad Bomber” Sam Melville protested the Vietnam War by blowing up buildings, and he died unrepentant in the Attica riots – but what, if anything, was his legacy?

A Fire Bell in the Night

April 1, 2010
plaza

President Polk isn’t exactly a household name, and a new book seeks to change that. Will the facilitator of genocide and the originator of civil war get a fair shake? Read on!

Pay Attention, Cynewulf

April 1, 2010
barbarian_inv.

The warrior tribes who chipped away at Rome’s Western empire were pretty rough on each other, too. A new book examines the fight for fledgling Europe.

Rapture Crash

April 1, 2010
JaronLanier_YouTube

There’s a frightening possibility at the heart of Jaron Lanier’s new manifesto You Are Not a Gadget: how often do we subjugate our own personalities to the fixed designs of computer software?

Strategikon

April 1, 2010
justinian (1)

The glory that was Rome lived on – in a strange new form – for a thousand years in the East, despite being beset by enemies on all sides. A new study illuminates how they managed it.

Soothing the Elites

March 1, 2010
menand

Louis Menand has offered a calm and lucid response to the usual jeremiads about higher education–but is its lecture targeted to an ever-shrinking audience?

Twilight of the Giants

March 1, 2010
Southern Right Whale

The elephants of South Africa and the right whales of the North Atlantic are enormous, complex – and confronted with a growing human population. Two books estimate their chances.

The Man and the Monument

February 1, 2010
revolution

The Glorious Revolution of 1688 was peaceful, orderly, and above all sensible, or so says towering Victorian historian Thomas Babington Macaulay. Two new books look at the man and the Revolution he so indelibly described.

Coming Out of the Room

February 1, 2010
BarnyFrankYoutube

Stuart Weisberg’s biography of Barney Frank may be scattered and incomplete, but it’s got one huge saving grace: Frank’s own witticisms on nearly every page.

“Ranvaik Owns This Box”

January 1, 2010
viking warrior unwilling wife

Is it possible to defend a group of people who gleefully made rape and torture a part of their lives? Freydis Skaar reviews a new history of the Vikings and finds its author, Robert Ferguson, doing something very close to that.

Over the Old Elms

January 1, 2010
liu ta-wei 1977

It’s often forgotten, or ignored, that China has a four-thousand-year-old history as rich and varied as any Western civilization. Hugh Seames hopes that John Keay’s immense new book will change some misperceptions about the Middle Kingdom

The Long and Winding Road

January 1, 2010
cowland

Jonathan Safran Foer is not the first, but is certainly the most famous, to investigate the ethics of eating animals. Megan Kearns studies both the style and the substance of his argument, with an eye to his less acknowledged allies in vegetarianism

Yikes!

December 1, 2009
speechless

Unlike most prior White House wonks, Matt Latimer aw-shucks his way through history and into deep, deep trouble; Greg Waldmann reviews Speech Less

Have You Seene Me?

December 1, 2009
newlit

As Laura Kolbe shows, A New Literary History of America throws every word of its own title into question—and that’s not the most exciting part of Greil Marcus and Werner Sollors’ immense anthology

The Better Part of Me

December 1, 2009
ovid1

When he was banished for life from Rome, Ovid was trying to alter his artistic forms with his Metamorphoses. Trace the transformations in Steve Donoghue’s final “Year with the Romans”

A Handbook for Hope

December 1, 2009
half

In Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sherilyn DuWunn chronicle the plight of women from the Congo to Cambodia, and everywhere else across the globe; Megan Kearns reviews their work.

“… and is there nothing more you want?”

December 1, 2009
munich-1938

In 1938 Neville Chamberlain faced the ultimate ‘what if’ scenario, negotiating peace with Hitler; A.C. Childers weighs in on David Faber’s new account of the results.

The Books and the City

December 1, 2009
ninelives1

Dan Baum and Dave Eggers have made very different books on New Orleans and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Thomas Larson separates sense from sensationalism.

Ain’t That America

November 1, 2009
little-pink-house

Foreclosure isn’t the homeowner’s only enemy. No one’s safe in their home when big money sniffs around; so the Supreme Court famously ruled in Kelo v. New London: John Cotter reviews muckraker Jeff Benedict’s Little Pink House.

Hurricanes, Murders, and Music

November 1, 2009
yearbeforetheflood

Ned Sublette pens a loving portrait of New Orleans before Katrina struck. Ingrid Norton reviews The Year Before the Flood.

Horace in the Afternoon

November 1, 2009
penguinodes

He was everybody’s friend, and his poetry breathes with life even today. He was Horace, and “A Year with the Romans” makes his acquaintance.

Tomb It May Concern

November 1, 2009
themurderofkingtut

In a new work of Egyptology, bestselling author James Patterson claims he’s cracked the oldest murder case this side of Cain and Abel, but is Ascanio Tedeschi convinced?

SuperSemiQuasiKindaSortaPseudoMaybeDudeWhateveronomics

November 1, 2009
superfreakonomics

The writers of Freakonomics are at it again, this time in super-sized form; Arthur Brock scrutinizes their findings.

Thorns Too

October 1, 2009
avindicationoflove

In A Vindication of Love, Christina Nehring has set herself the task of reclaiming romantic love for the Twitter Age. Ingrid Norton rates the results.

Check Out My Cicero

October 1, 2009
theamericanfuture

Simon Schama’s The American Future finds ways to relate most of American history to President Obama. Amanda Bragg checks the connections.

The Grace of Seduction

October 1, 2009
RecognizingPersius

Steve Donoghue’s “A Year with the Romans” continues with a look at the obscure Roman poet Persius – and the great new book about him.

Verissimus

September 1, 2009
marcus-aurelius-mclynn

Statesmen, philosophers, and serial killers turn to the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, but what was the emperor himself like? Frank McLynn’s Marcus Aurelius tells, and in this month’s “A Year with the Romans,” Steve Donoghue assesses.

In a Thing So Small

September 1, 2009
signaturecell

In Signature in the Cell, Stephen Meyer suggests that science has prematurely evicted a prime mover from cellular biology, and he would like it put back. Ignazio de Vega tests his case.

Humanist, Heal Thyself

August 1, 2009
Humanist, Heal Thyself

In Reason, Faith, and Revolution, literary critic Terry Eagleton joins the contentious “God Debates” popularized by Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. Jeremy Kessler moderates the results.

Alexander the Grating

August 1, 2009
alexander-darius-veronese

The only surviving full-length biography of Alexander the Great was written by a Roman. Steve Donoghue looks at Quintus Curtius Rufus as “A Year with the Romans” continues.

He Wanted to Go to Disneyland

August 1, 2009
k_blows_top

Sure, he banged his shoe on a podium, but there was more than that to the fun-loving, infuriating Khrushchev – lots more, as Kristen Borg finds out in Peter Carlson’s K Blows Top

‘To the Great Infamy of the King’s Highness’

August 1, 2009
durham

Church and State collided in Henry VIII’s England, and Durham Cathedral was caught in the middle. Steve Donoghue returns to his Tudor beat to review Geoffrey Moorhouse’s The Last Divine Office.

‘May Your BlackBerry Rot in Hell’

July 1, 2009
digital_barbarism

Brilliant novelist/amateur crank Mark Helprin despairs of your online thievery, and Esther Schell despairs of his new book, Digital Barbarism.

Glory at Half Price

July 1, 2009
satchel

Larry Tye has written a book about the greatest, longest baseball career to date; Brad Jones benches the Babe and tallies up Satchel.

Who the Hell is Lili St. Cyr?

July 1, 2009
stripping

Carl Van Doren called her “the princess who takes off her pants,” but who was Gypsy Rose Lee, really? Kindly let Michael Adams entertain you in looking at two recent biographies.

Bejabbers!

July 1, 2009
sutro-tunnel

That famous vein of gold (well, mostly silver) made American millionaires, awful tragedies, and Mark Twain. Eli Wanamaker’s literary quarry is Dennis Drabelle’s Mile-High Fever.

Miss Hamilton Disposes

July 1, 2009
Miss Hamilton Disposes

No one had ever written about love – in its infinite and profane variety – the way the Roman poet Catullus did; its explication by a scholarly schoolmistress might seem paradoxical – but Edith Hamilton knew something about love herself.

In Praise of Snobbery

July 1, 2009
carol-ann-duffy

Great Britain has finally made a woman poet laureate—and a lesbian no less. As Bryn Haworth reports, when she’s isn’t writing about the Royals, she’s plenty worthy of the honor. Since writing about the Royals is one of the job’s few requirements, what changes might we expect from the post?

‘… to ourselves and our posterity …’

July 1, 2009
convention

Richard Beeman, in his Plain, Honest Men, reminds us that the Founding Fathers weren’t demigods. Thomas J. Daly measures their feet of clay.

The Empire Strikes Back?

May 1, 2009
new-cold-war

Edward Lucas, in The New Cold War, puts a modern face on the hoary geopolitical struggle between the Russian bear and the American eagle. Greg Waldmann sorts the players and evaluates the stakes.

Ten Questions for Sarah Ruden

May 1, 2009
sarahruden

Sarah Ruden, the latest and greatest translator of Vergil’s Aeneid, offers a funny and fascinating glimpse inside the classicist’s world in this Open Letters interview.

Uncle Livy

May 1, 2009
optiolo2lo

Steve Donoghue’s “Year with the Romans” turns its eye upon Titus Livius, who either wrote poetical history or historical poetry, depending on who you ask.

Second Glance: ‘Do Not, Future People, Bring Up a Child the Wrong Way’

May 1, 2009
kalevala

The Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, was compiled in the early 19th century from a much older oral tradition—can it possibly have anything to teach the modern reader? Sean Hughes has some surprising answers.

Before Nightfall

April 1, 2009
kerch-19421

Just as we approach the time when there will be no more living witnesses to the Second World War, Richard Evans concludes his monumental three-volume Nazi history with The Third Reich at War. Steve Donoghue makes record of the results.

Planned Rampage

April 1, 2009
eric-journal-main0008

Novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers have begun weaving the Columbine shootings into their fiction. Reviewing Dave Cullen’s Columbine, Brad Jones concentrates on the sad facts alone.

Con-Men

April 1, 2009
fakers

That persistent bugaboo of publishers (and recently, the reading public): writers passing off others’ work as their own. Paul Maliszewski’s Fakers looks at some notorious cases, and John G. Rodwan Jr. weighs in.

EMK

April 1, 2009
last_lion1

For half a century, Senator Ted Kennedy has been carving out a legacy in Congress. The legacy and the man come into focus in Thomas J. Daly’s review of Last Lion.

Guide

April 1, 2009
dido_and_aeneas

Virgil’s Aeneid has been attracting translators for centuries, and Sarah Ruden’s rendering is notable in more ways than one. (She calls him Vergil, for one thing, but that’s just the start.) Steve Donoghue regards her efforts in the latest “A Year with the Romans.”

Paddy Whacked

April 1, 2009
1

Malcolm Gladwell is once again on the bestseller lists, this time for Outliers, about the social science of genius. Peter Coclanis begs to differ with the vox populi.

Worth the Risk

March 1, 2009
Worth the Risk

Almost twenty-five years ago, thieves entered Boston’s venerable Gardner Museum by night and stole several priceless works of art; the crime remains unsolved, and the artwork has never re-surfaced. Theories, of course, abound.

Archimedes and the Plesiosaur

March 1, 2009
nocturneriverbattersea

Peter Ackroyd’s Thames: the Biography is a rambling, list-laden account of the much-storied river. Our London correspondent Bryn Haworth tests the waters.

President Pepys

March 1, 2009
reagan-laughing

Ronald Reagan was the only modern U.S. President to keep a daily journal. Steve Donoghue plumbs The Unabridged Reagan Diaries in search of the diarist’s soul.

More Harm Than Good

February 1, 2009
greatgamble

In 1979, the mighty Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan – and quickly got bogged down in a quagmire from which victory seemed impossible. In The Great Gamble, Gregory Feifer examines what happened; muscular Zac Marconi tries to tie it all together.

It’s All His Fault

February 1, 2009
hamiltoncurse

Thomas DiLorenzo, in Hamilton’s Curse, lays all the present-day woes of the United States at the feet of that most problematic of Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton. Did Aaron Burr do us all a favor? Thomas Daly weighs the prosecution’s case.

“…and you have got some friends of the wrong sort dear boy…”

February 1, 2009
bright

And you thought text-messaging was bad! In the 1920s, the gin-soaked youth movement of the Bright Young People swept through London, making headlines and raising eyebrows. Honoria St. Cyr takes a whirl through D. J. Taylor’s book on the subject and asks: “WTF?”

Free with Subscription! Order Now!

February 1, 2009
longtime

Evan Thomas, under the aegis of Newsweek, with substantial researcher assistance, after the editing of … well, “A Long Time Coming”, the first post-election account of President Obama’s campaign, got written somehow. Greg Waldmann goes into it with high hopes – and then conducts the autopsy.

Another World Than This

February 1, 2009
nicolson

They were wealthy, influential, and for two centuries in England they wielded power to rival the king’s … but who were the Earls of Pembroke (and their equally formidable wives)? In Quarrel with the King, Adam Nicolson takes us beyond the pomp, and here Steve Donoghue looks at the politics of family.

Potato Style

January 1, 2009
hopkinsbook

Would the inventor of “sprung rhythm” have lived a more carefree existence in a world that allowed him to live and love the way he wanted? What poetry would he write in such a world? Steve Donoghue takes a brisk dip into Paul Mariani’s Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life.

No Sign of Horror in the Heavens

December 1, 2008
forbidden

Mary Borden’s long-forgotten 1929 memoir of World War I, The Forbidden Zone, takes its readers into the harrowing world of a front-line trauma nurse. Joanna Scutts joins her in the trenches and assesses the damage.

Where Will the Devil Show the Most Malice

December 1, 2008
titubabryant

John Demos, author of The Unredeemed Captive, has produced The Enemy Within, a new comprehensive history of witch-hunting, a mania that has gripped mankind for centuries. From Salem to the McCarthy hearings and beyond, Rita Consalvos surveys this new survey.

Lucky Bastard

December 1, 2008
scipiobook

Everybody’s heard of Hannibal, who crossed the Alps and out-fought the Romans in battle after battle. Far fewer people have heard of Scipio, the young general who finally defeated him. And nobody’s heard of the hero Ascanio Tedeschi uncovers in his examination of two books on ancient Rome’s great and near-great.

They Went to Work Quickly

December 1, 2008
They Went to Work Quickly

Jane Mayers’ The Dark Side describes the United States’ rapid descent into the murky ways of torture and secret autocracy. Whether its the expediting of illegal proceedings or the out-sourcing of brutality, Greg Waldmann tries not to flinch from what he finds in Meyers’ account.

“For I am a Brid of Paradise”

December 1, 2008
humphrey

The kings and counts of Tudor England wouldn’t have known the name of minor Cheshire landowner Humphrey Newton, but in reviewing Deborah Youngs’ book on the man, Steve Donoghue illustrates just how much Newton can teach us about the era. “A Year with the Tudors” concludes here.

I Can Haz Qwalitee Kontrol

November 1, 2008
petfood

Millions of people all over the world feed their pets food manufactured under circumstances that would make Upton Sinclair spin in his grave. Sara Shaffer sifts through the ingredients of Marion Nestle’s Pet Food Politics.

Six Heads a Day

November 1, 2008
napegypt

Before the pestiferous little Corsican conquered Europe, he tried his hand at Egypt – Steve Donoghue exposes how the general disposes in his review of Paul Strathern’s Napoleon in Egypt.

Soft by Nature and Quick to Tears

November 1, 2008
medea

Euripides’ Medea has been explained, performed, and debated for the last 2000 years. Panagiotis Polichronakis looks at Robin Robertson’s new translation and ponders whether it’s fit for scholars, dramaturgs, or the all-elusive common reader.

The Education of Barack Obama

October 1, 2008
obama-harvard

A mere month remains until the most fiercely fought and most historically pivotal American presidential election of the last half-century. In July, Greg Waldmann served up an in-depth look at Republican John McCain. Here, just in time for the election, he does likewise for Democrat Barack Obama.

The Lord Won’t Mind

October 1, 2008
map1862

Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson achieved immortal fame in his Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862. Peter Cozzens re-examines the man behind the legend, and Steve Donoghue adjudges the results.

Set in a Turquoise Sea

October 1, 2008
venice

“It assaults me, and I adore it!” exclaimed Isabella Stewart Gardner of the legendary city of Venice, and legions of visitors have felt likewise. Venetian writer Tiziano Scarpa writes a love-letter to his spellbinding native city. Professor Hugh Seames has the oar.

The New Road to Meritocracy?

October 1, 2008
crowdsourcing

With his new book and coinage Crowdsourcing, Jeff Howe argues that a democratic, everyman wisdom is the secret to business success. So is the vox populi really the key to quality? Kathleen Smith, crowd of one, weighs the argument.

The Master Touch: One Encounter with Shakespeare’s Henry VIII

October 1, 2008
henryviii

William Shakespeare lived under the Tudors for most of his life, but he only wrote about them once, in his play The History of the Life of King Henry VIII – or did he? In our latest One Encounter, and also the new installment in his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue takes a look at that play and the fractious theories attendant.

A Difficult Woman

September 1, 2008
maaryandphillipii

Mary Tudor’s fierce Catholic faith and merciless persecution of Protestants gave her the immortal nickname of “Bloody Mary.” In our ongoing feature A Year with the Tudors, Steve Donoghue reviews Linda Porter’s The First Queen of England: The Myth of “Bloody Mary.”

Q & A with Linda Porter

September 1, 2008
lindapicture

An in-depth addition to our Year with the Tudors: Open Letters chats with a writer equally hip-deep in the subject, Linda Porter, author of The First Queen of England: The Myth of “Bloody Mary.” Our first Q & A!

My Eyes Are Up Here, Milord

September 1, 2008
elizabethleicester

There’s something going on in the latest trend of Tudor book-covers, and we’re not sure what it is, although a pair (shall we say?) of aspects is quite obvious. What are these publishers thinking? Take a look for yourself! and a second look! and a third!

Dwyer’s Antichrist

September 1, 2008
dwyer

Even would-be world-beater Napoleon was never able to subjugate his critics. In reviewing Philip Dwyer’s new book Napoleon: The Path to Power, Thomas J. Daly finds at least one such critic still bashing away at the diminutive Corsican.

Scolds in the Agora

August 1, 2008
dumbest

For those too addled by Xbox to grasp subtlety, Mark Bauerlein and Richard Shenkman have titled their respective books The Dumbest Generation and Just How Stupid Are We? For the rest of us, Laura Tanenbaum provides a nuanced evaluation of the laments of these cultural Jeremiahs.

He Went Thataway

August 1, 2008
tropics-empire

Overlooked by many historians is the fact that Columbus didn’t just sail west to reach the East, he also sailed south, and he (and the rest of the world) had some specific ideas of what that meant. Bartolomeo Piccolomini shows how Nicolas Wey Gomez’s new book brings the full sphere of The Discoverer’s navigation to life, showing you a Columbus you never knew.

The End of the End of the End of the End of History

August 1, 2008
thereturnofhistory

In his latest book (a slim one this time), Robert Kagan again probes the socio-political state of the West. History is back, he tells us—about a week after he told us it was gone. Greg Waldmann helps us to to keep track of the epochs without a scorecard in his review of The Return of History and the End of Dreams.

“That is Impossible,” He Told the Court

August 1, 2008
plot-pepys

At the peak of his career, Naval Secretary (and posthumously famous diarist) Samuel Pepys found himself out of a job, in jail, and facing execution for his alleged plot against the government. Father and son writing team of James and Ben Long take the reader through all the twists and turns of the case; father and son reviewers Thurlow and Zach Truman report back.

The Truth and John McCain

July 1, 2008
mccain-pilot

In covering John McCain’s life and accomplishments, the American press has been, how shall we put it? less than tenacious. There are real stories they’ve yet to explore, or so argues Greg Waldmann in his first piece as Open Letters‘ Politics Editor.

Absent Friends: The Harper in the Hall

July 1, 2008
brucecatton

Though the American Civil War produced more and better books and writers than any single event in our country’s history, Bruce Catton is the greatest of its 20th century tellers. In this regular feature, Steve Donoghue tours the breathtaking work of an unfairly set-aside annalist.

Book Review: The China Diary of George H.W. Bush

June 24, 2008
9780691130064

For a year in the mid 1970s George H.W. Bush was the head of the United States Liaison Office in China. Steve Donoghue laments the contrast they make with his incurious son.

Getting Off

June 1, 2008
leopoldloeb

Ninety years ago, the author of The Birds of Puerto Rico bludgeoned a small boy to death with the help of then-lover Richard Loeb. Steve Donoghue takes readers through Simon Baatz’s For the Thrill of It—in which Clarence Darrow fights the good fight for a couple of very, very bad boys.

Living Israel’s History

June 1, 2008
1948

Partisans on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have trouble reconciling the intricacy of events with their national mythology. Greg Waldmann explains how the Benny Morris of 1948 is both the exception and the rule.

Nunc Dimittis

June 1, 2008
counselor

Ted Sorensen was the most loyal of JFK’s retainers and the last to finally spill the beans about the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Steve Donoghue walks us through the worthy—if somewhat hedging—memoir of an eloquent and haunted man.

The Dancing Congress

May 1, 2008
Metternich

Napoleon came home from Elba to find his wine barrels dry, his floors scuffed, and a host of minor nobodies redistricting his continent. This was the celebrated Congress of Vienna, and Thomas J. Daly takes us through the maneuvers of Vienna 1814 by David King.

Anything that Moves: The Tudors on Film

May 1, 2008
the-tudors-season-2-premiere

More than any other dynasty in history, the Tudors are ready for their close-up. In this installment of his “Year with the Tudors,” Steve Donoghue leads us on a royal progress through film archives to access the heart and stomach of these undying superstars.